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Spirit of Discovery blog


24th February, 2020

When I got the email from Captain Burgess asking me to write the blog about Alta, I inwardly groaned! Captain has asked me to blog on the port with the most challenging tours, the longest possible dispatch and of course the coldest port of call… and then tells me to keep it short!!

Where we berth is right next to the local airport and I am astonished that aeroplanes can land in a snow blizzard. They have landing down to a fine art! No snowflake (or 300 billion) are going to stop these pilots!

Well, it was a military operation over the last two days. Our poor guests thought they were coming on vacation however, I had them out and about, on and off buses and just when they thought they had 30 minutes to freshen up, and I had them on the move again!

We had a total of 47 buses on tour in Alta over the two day period with a total of 1498 guests on tour. The day temperature was between two-12 degrees with a variety of horizontal snow, blizzards, sunshine and blizzards again, all in one hour!!

We had a great variety of tours over these two days, from reindeer sledding, dog sledding, home visits, cultural city and Cathedral tours to visiting the Ice Hotel and even ice sculpting! A few brave souls overnighted in the Ice Hotel and reported that it was a once in a lifetime experience (even though they had to dress like an Eskimo to visit the loo at night and then try to remember which curtain to open to get back to their room!). It was a beautiful room however…

My personal experience was rather limited in Alta, I had the delight of spending two days in the parking lot loading busses. However, together with our amazing housekeeping team (out with a smile, sanitising buses all day) we made our own fun….

In the evening, I did manage to join the 17th bus out to the Aurora camp. We had two camps we took all the guests to in the hope to see the lights, I was at camp Solvag which was a lovely camp with lots of Tipi tents to hide from the cold and delicious hot chocolate and cake to warm the heart and body. At around 22:15 the skies cleared and we got some lovely sights of the Northern Lights, we were very fortunate. The show lasted about 45 minutes….even though us brave souls stayed out there until well after midnight. Chef George and his remarkable team provided a great spread for us when we returned. We couldn't possibly go to bed hungry!

We were very fortunate to get 33 of our crew out on this night as well; they had their own campsite to visit. They spent more time playing in the snow, making snow angels, snowball fights and trying to build snowmen then actually watching the night sky. However, they too saw the lights. I wonder how many selfies were taken that night?

Well, I have learnt one very big lesson being in the snow, biting wind and ice for a couple of days… pens freeze! I had no idea! Monitoring dispatch with a frozen pen is no fun, and I have now invested in a pencil!

Coming from South Africa, I must admit I hate the cold! I was not brought up with snow and ice and although this is a great novelty, I must admit if I ever see another snowflake, again… will be too soon!

Best wishes to you all.

Judi, Explore Ashore Manager

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.